Cost of bell tower project on the rise

Published 5:12 pm Thursday, September 29, 2016

Construction hasn’t even been approved and the cost of rebuilding the bell tower on the Clark County Courthouse is going up.

For more than a year the Clark County Fiscal Court has been discussing what to do with the bell tower, which in deteriorating and leaking water into the courthouse.

Earlier this summer, the Court approved a contract with Tate Hill Jacobs Architects and Poage Engineers to develop a plan to preserve or rebuild the bell tower.

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Wednesday, the court approved a revised contract with the firms which added more than $36,000 to the original $18,950 contract because the courthouse is on the national register of historic places.

“They found out when the Kentucky Heritage Council visited, there was additional work because the building is on the national register,” Branham said.

The revised contract calls for “careful removal and salvage” of material from the tower for reconstruction, designing a new structure system to use new or existing assemblies and rebuild the tower to its current appearance. The companies will also prepare documents for a Kentucky Historic Preservation tax credit and assist in the bidding process.

Whether the bell is returned to the tower or not is subject to the Heritage Council’s decision. Upon a construction contract being awarded, work would begin within 90 days and take about eight months to complete.

Construction documents would be ready within 90 days, according to the agreement approved by the Court.

The project has not been bid, but Branham said broad estimates were in the $700,000 to $1 million range.

“It’s to the point it’s causing significant problems for circuit court,” Branham said. “If it’s a hard rain now, it will run down the stairs to the main floor.”

Magistrate Robert Blanton raised the question of paying for the project. Branham said the county’s rainy day fund of approximately $221,000 would cover part of it while the rest would have to be bonded.

The Court voted 5-2 to hire county finance officer Frankie Faulkner as assistant treasurer. Branham said Faulkner would receive an additional $10,500 annually for the added duties. Branham said Faulkner would be allowed to fill in for treasurer Jerry Madden and perform many of his duties, though she would not be able to sign checks. It would also save the county money by hiring Faulkner compared to hiring another person.

Magistrates Pam Blackburn and Daniel Konstantopoulos voted no.

In other action, the Court:

— approved the second reading of an ordinance to rezone property at 1600 Revilo Road from A1 agricultural to I1 light industrial.

— appointed Blanton to serve on the Clark County Fiscal Court Community Foundation committee in place of magistrate Joe Graham.

— approved a proposal to build a concrete pad at Clark County Fire Station 3 in Trapp to make it handicapped accessible as a voting precinct. Joe Angel submitted the lowest proposal of $4,697.

— voted 4-3 to hire Anthony Kirk as an agent for the county home incarceration office. Konstantopoulos, Blackburn and Blanton voted no.

— approved a measure to increase meeting payments for members of the Winchester-Clark County Planning Commission  from $50 to $100 and Board of Adjustments from $25 to $50. The ordinance must be approved by the Winchester Board of Commissioners as well.

— rescheduled the county fire department committee meetings to the first Monday of even months.

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About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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